Colin Robert Faulkner, a man who was quiet, generous, humble and with a no bullsh-t attitude died on Wednesday, January 19 at his home in Wollar in Central West NSW.
He was farewelled on Friday, January 28 at a ceremony at Wollar Cemetery under a hot summer sun with roughly 150 friends and well-wishers in attendance. He was 69.
Colloquially known as 'the mayor of Wollar' Col - as he was better known - was a resident for nearly four decades, having moved to the area after he 'got the sh-ts with Sydney'.
He loved Wollar and fought hard for the village to survive, never wavering in his fight against mining interests in the area who wanted to buy him out. "Why should I have to move?," he said once. "Bugger 'em."
For many, Col is the last real link to Wollar. "You might as well rub it off the map," his son Clint said after his father's death.
A modest man, he lived in a one-bedroom, circa 1904, ex-butchers shop which later became a leather shop, an iconic piece of real estate in the village.
A big day for Col might have been letting his cows out to graze, saving him a bigger mowing job later on. Col was always first with the whipper snipper, cleaning up long grass around the village or manning a barbecue, such was his pride for Wollar.
Or maybe, after a heavy bout of rain Col would get his old surfboard out of the shed and enjoy a paddle down the creek while it was in flood. His prior life living on the Cronulla foreshore in Sydney coming back, a beach bum in the bush. He holds the record for the longest tube ride on Sydney's south side.
If there was a local committee or group, Col would be on it. Whether it was the local progress association or a meeting at the school hall. He joined the Wollar Rural Fire Brigade in 1980 and dedicated 42 years of service to the NSW RFS.
Speaking with the Mudgee Guardian in 2018, he lamented the impending closure of Wollar Public School, having attended presentations at the school for more than three decades.
"It was the social hub of the village for a long time, the progress association was very active we had a few dances, a few barbecues each year. My kid went here when he was growing up and I was treasurer for 10years, it was just the right thing to do for the local neighbourhood," he said.
"It was always part of the social scene and it's interesting to see the different kids growing up and passing through the school as well, see how they got on."
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Despite his low profile, he was well-known and liked around the NSW Mid-Western region, popping up in unexpected places.
Viv Gibbs, who grew up down the road from Col and his family, spoke of the time he appeared at her wedding unannounced.
"He sat on the parents and grandparents table. Literally no-one even batted an eyelid, it was just like 'oh cool, Col came.'"
In a post after his death, staff at Cooyal Hotel paid tribute to the man who 'called the shots the way he saw them.'
'He had a sharp mind, and was no fool. If the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy, then Col was a great man. We are proud that he has been a part of our lives here at Cooyal Hotel. He will be missed.'
Col Faulkner was the last man standing.
At his funeral in Wollar, a poem by B. T. Campbell titled, Retrospective Wisdom was read.
His boots sit by the fire,
Should probably throw them out some day.
But they're like the cape of Superman,
So it's probably not today.
Just like the old hat on the nail,
And the belt still in the drawer.
And the watch that never kept the time,
Still on the table by the door.
They'll never fit quite right again,
Too big for any other man.
So they can just sit and hold the memories,
For the time being is the plan.
Just like the slab we laid in 85,
Initialed there in the cement.
And the fence as straight as arrows,
Up to the old gate that we bent.
And the shed we made together,
When he taught me how to build.
And the well we dug down by the creek,
That never really filled.
Yet the thing that lasts forever,
Is not the concrete, steel or wood.
It's but the time spent with each other,
Not explained but understood.
And I guess it's easier in hindsight,
To appreciate what's past.
And it's but retrospective wisdom,
That reveals itself at last.
But it says don't ever waste an instant,
And use up every chance you get.
To treasure those you're given,
And cherish those you won't forget.
For though boots can hold your memories,
Now is the time for sure.
Make sure you go and tell that hero,
They're not made like him no more.
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